Jesus’ Authority Over Demons

The Gospel of Mark – Part 18

Jesus’ Authority Over Demons – Mark 5:1-20

Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – Nov. 24th, 2019


  • The main purpose of the Gospel of Mark is to draw the reader to understand the true identity of Jesus Christ. We are in a section where Mark gives four accounts of the authority of Jesus over nature, demons, sickness and death. Last week, we read about how Jesus, after a long day of ministry and teaching, set out across the sea of Galilee with His disciples. On the way to the other side, a huge storm came upon them and the disciples were afraid for their very lives. After waking Jesus, Jesus showed His care of them by demonstrating His authority over nature by causing the storm to stop with three little words: “peace, be still.” Jesus then questioned the faith of His disciples and they questioned each other by saying, “Who is this? – even the wind and the waves obey him!” And they were more afraid of the authority and power of Jesus than the power and strength of the storm. Jesus has authority over all natural forces, and in the passage for today we will see that Jesus has authority over all supernatural forces as well. 
  • The next passage describes an encounter where Jesus interacts with a man who was possessed by a legion of unclean demonic spirits who had taken over this man with supernatural strength.  From this passage we see the position of authority of Jesus, who has been given a name that is “above every other name” and at the name of Jesus “every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (see Phil. 2:9-10). Because of who Jesus is, and that we are in Him and He is in us by His Spirit, we do not need to fear or be overcome by supernatural forces, “for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4-5 ESV). Jesus is truly the “son of the most high God” and He is to be worshiped, and honored. He is worthy of your trust and allegiance. This passage has two parts, first the interaction with the unclean spirits, and second the response of people from this interaction. 


Limited natural strength

Mark 5:1-5 ESV
They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes.  2 And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. 3 He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, 4 for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and bruising himself with stones. 

  • After calming the storm, Jesus and His disciples get to the other side of the sea. And when they had landed and stepped out of the boat, immediately they were met by the demonized man.  
  • This man lived in the tombs and roamed the mountains in that region. He could not be controlled or contained. The people did everything in their power to control this man, even using shackles and chains which he broke in pieces. This man was out of control and was hurting himself and I am sure terrorizing people in the area, and they did not have the power to control this man. 
  • We are limited creatures, with limited power. We, in our own power and strength, cannot contain or control supernatural forces despite our best efforts. There are beings in this world that are more powerful you and any human. The good news is that there is a being that is even more powerful still, and His name is Jesus the Son of the Most High God.  

Recognition of identity  

Mark 5:6-7 ESV
And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. 7 And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!”  

  • This poor demonized man, when he saw Jesus from afar, ran and fell down in homage to Him.  This was a man that everyone ran from who was now running to the only one who could set him free.  
  • The demons recognized who He was, and they knew that He was greater than them and had authority over them. They knew His true identity, being once in heaven, that He was the Son of the Most High God. After creating terror and destruction everywhere they went, they were terrified of Jesus and cried out that He would not torment them. This was a supernatural power being confronted by ultimate power.  And this power was greater than theirs and his goal was in direct opposition to theirs. They came “to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10-11 ESV).  They knew that their time was up and that they had to submit themselves to His authority. 

Submission to authority

Mark 5:9-13 ESV
And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” 10 And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, 12 and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” 13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out, and entered the pigs, and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and were drowned in the sea.

  • There was a whole host of demons who had banded together, a virtual, overwhelming spiritual storm.  Not just one, which was powerful enough, but a legion of at least two thousand of them.  And they were one, who is the Son of the Most High God. They repeatedly and earnestly begged Him not to send them away out of the country and into the abyss.
  • Jesus then used this confrontation to accomplish His will and greater mission. He indeed freed the man, made a powerful theological point, revealed the hearts of men and spread the message of the power and mercy of God to the region. 
  • So, Jesus gave permission to the legion of unclean spirits to enter a legion of unclean animals (Lev. 11:7-9) who then rushed down a steep bank and were drowned into the sea.  This was a demonstration of His earthy judgment that was a foreshadow of the ultimate judgement where all that is unclean will be thrown into not a lake of water, but a lake of fire (see Rev. 19:20, 20:10-15).  These two acts did not go unnoticed.   


A fearful rejection

Mark 5:14-17 ESV
The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 16 And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. 17 And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. 

  • Because of this supernatural encounter with this demonized man, and the effect it had on this man and on the pigs, the herdsmen, who were taking care of the pigs, fled and told their story to those in the city and those in the country. 
  • Because of their story, people came to see for themselves what had happened. They saw Jesus and the saw the demon-possessed man, sitting there clothed, and in his right mind, and they were afraid. I think they were perhaps even more afraid of Jesus than they were of the possessed man. And instead of rejoicing for the freedom of this man, and coming to Jesus to be freed themselves, they were afraid and begged Him to leave their region. They rejected the very Son of God by preferring pigs over persons, and swine over the savior. People’s hearts are seen for what they are from their response to Jesus.  It was that way then, and it is the same way now.  And so Jesus gave them what they wanted and left them, even though one wanted Him to stay. 

An inspired witness  

Mark 5:18-20 ESV
As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him.  And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”  20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled. 

  • The man that Jesus had delivered did not reject Him, but earnestly wanted to be with Him.  And Jesus, because of His mercy not just for the man, but for those in the entire region, told the man to be reunited to his friends and tell the story of the mercy of God and what Jesus had done for him. Jesus will still extend His message of mercy through the witness of those He touched even to those who are afraid and have rejected him. The mission of this man and the mission of us all is to be a witness to the mercy and majesty of God in our lives as well. 


  • Open your hearts to embrace the reality of who Jesus is and continue to give your life and your allegiance to knowing Him and following His will for your life. He is the one true God, and all authority in heaven and earth is His. He is good and you can trust Him. He is powerful and just.  He is worthy of all honor and the highest praise. He gave His life for us, so that in Him we will have abundant eternal life.  
  • We remember what He has done for us as we look forward to all that waits for us as we celebrate communion together.